4 Behavior changes to watch for in your adult dog
Behavior changes at any age should never be ignored but it’s especially important with older pets. As your pet ages, they may begin to show some signs of Canine Cognitive Decline (CCD); senility in dogs. These indicators can mean a lot of different things, and determining whether they are treatable medical problems or CCD, is something that you should consult with your veterinarian. Things like memory, awareness, sight, and hearing can deteriorate as a result of aging. It’s not uncommon to write off changed behavior as “old age,” but don’t be too quick to assume that’s the only cause.
1. Have you noticed any of these signs of aging?
If you have, it’s time to talk to your vet. Does your pet seem to be confused or disoriented at times? These could be the very first signs of CCD, but often these signs can be attributed to inflammation in the body. Hearing and vision loss are other indications that your dog might make your dog be disoriented. Trouble navigating through the house at night can be a result of changing vision. If your pet’s vision is decreasing, which is a common problem in older pets, then she may go to the wrong side of the door, or be confused about where she is. Anxiety, fear and compulsion problems can also arise.
2. Have you noticed changes in her activity level?
If your pet stops jumping onto the furniture or into your lap, starts sitting or lying down differently, hesitates going up or down steps, or stops in the middle of a walk, let your vet know. This could be a sign of CCD but could also be that your pet’s experiencing some pain. Pain causes lots of behavior changes. When dogs have arthritis and chronic pain they avoid being around active dogs and people. If they can’t get away, they may growl or snap. This is their way of protecting themselves from being bumped into or touched. Aggression in an older pet who was usually very calm is a red flag for body pain.
3. Are you seeing any changes in Sleeping patterns?
Have you noticed your pet is sleeping more soundly or seems to be more active at night? A change in sleeping patterns is common in adult dogs. Dogs can get their days and nights mixed up so they’ll be active and awake at night, and sleep most of the day. Sometimes hormonal supplements can help to reset their internal clock and get their sleep-wake cycle back on track.
4. Are there any changes in appetite or water intake?
Either more or less can be an indicator of many conditions that should be addressed with your vet. Changes in water intake, for example, could also be due to a kidney problem.
Once dementia symptoms like those listed above begin, there are ways to slow down the progression, and ways to treat underlying causes that might be contributing to your pet’s discomfort, so make an appointment to see your vet.
Cindy Pervola, Lifetime dog owner, Business consultant, and writer.